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Health Benefits Of Chaga Mushrooms

By Nupur Jha

Chaga mushroom, which is scientifically known as Inonotus obliquus, originated in the forested regions of the Northern hemisphere which includes places like Alaska, Northern Canada and Siberia. This mushroom is popularly known for having amazing medicinal values and health benefits. This fungus grows on birch trees and is a great source of many nutrients. It grows on the bark of the trees by absorbing the nutrients from the host.

The shape of this mushroom is not so well defined as the other varieties; the chaga mushroom looks more like a cluster of dirt. The mushroom contains orange tissues in its centre and provides you with numerous health benefits, which we will discuss in this article.

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Nutritional Value

The chaga mushroom is a source of numerous vitamins, minerals and other nutrients. This mushroom contains vitamin B complex, D and K, fibre, potassium, calcium, selenium, copper, selenium, caesium, zinc, etc.

Health Benefits Of Chaga Mushrooms

Combats cancer

Rich in antioxidants, the chaga mushroom is believed to have the potential to fight cancer. Oxidants or free radicals present in the body cause cell damage, the antioxidants present in this mushroom aids in preventing that damage. A study carried out in 2010 by a cohort of researchers using chaga brought to light that this mushroom had the ability to slow down the growth of tumours in mice. The researchers even used this mushroom to see how it affects the lung, cervical as well as breast cancer cells which were placed in a petri dish, and a slowdown was observed in its pace.

Not just this, earlier in 2009, a study revealed that chaga, as well as some other mushrooms, had the ability to make the cancer cells destroy themselves and they didn't seem to cause any damage to the healthy cells. Presence of compounds called triterpenes in these mushrooms killed the cancerous cells.

Lowers cholesterol

Chaga mushrooms have properties that aid in lowering bad cholesterol or low-density lipoprotein (LDL). Bad cholesterol plays a major role in triggering cardiovascular disease which is the main cause of death across the world. Apart from normalising the cholesterol levels, chaga also aids in lowering blood pressure. High blood pressure makes you prone to heart attacks, strokes and other heart ailments.

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Could help lower blood sugar

Chaga mushrooms are likely to have the potential to lower blood sugar levels. In 2006, a research was carried out using genetically modified rats who were obese as well as diabetic. After these rodents were fed chaga mushrooms for 8 weeks, it was found that their blood sugar levels were comparatively lower. Research is yet to be conducted on humans.

Could control inflammation

Inflammation is usually short-term, but it can become long-term due to conditions like rheumatoid arthritis. Chaga mushrooms regulate the production of small proteins in the body called cytokines which play a crucial role in cell signalling. These proteins may help in controlling inflammation.

Slows down ageing

Ageing brings along wrinkles, saggy skin, fine lines, grey hair and so on caused due to oxidative stress. Various factors can speed up the process of ageing like pollution, excess exposure to sunlight, etc. People often use cosmetic products and anti-ageing creams, etc. with the aim of slowing the process down and getting rid of the unwanted lines.

As per the hypothesis, consuming antioxidants can aid in keeping ageing at bay and chaga mushroom is a great source of antioxidants. Though there is no strong evidence that chaga can reverse the process of ageing, its ability to combat other forms of oxidative stress can help in slowing down ageing.

Story first published: Wednesday, October 3, 2018, 18:30 [IST]